Mixing Religion and Health: Is it Good Science?

As the millennium approaches, spirituality is playing a more prominent role in medical practice. Many Americans believe that religious activity can promote health, and physicians report an increasing number of patients requesting at least discussion of religion in their treatment. In response, about 30 medical schools now offer courses in religion and spirituality.1 Support comes from other sectors too. "The Senate recently appropriated $50 million to set up five major centers to study mind-bo

Barry Palevitz and Ricki Lewis
Mar 28, 1999

As the millennium approaches, spirituality is playing a more prominent role in medical practice. Many Americans believe that religious activity can promote health, and physicians report an increasing number of patients requesting at least discussion of religion in their treatment. In response, about 30 medical schools now offer courses in religion and spirituality.1 Support comes from other sectors too.

"The Senate recently appropriated $50 million to set up five major centers to study mind-body medicine around the country, including any religious connection," says Harold Koenig, associate professor of psychiatry and assistant professor of internal medicine, Center for the Study of Religion, Spirituality, and Health at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. And April 11-13, the University of Arizona in Tucson will host an international conference, "Spirituality, Healing and Health: A Transformative Vision."

But public interest, new medical school curricula, increased funding, and even published papers do...

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